- Van Cliburn
Infobox musical artist
Name = Van Cliburn
Background = non_vocal_instrumentalist
Birth_name = Harvey Lavan Cliburn Jr.
Born = birth date and age|1934|07|12
Shreveport, Louisiana, United States
Genre = Classical
Harvey Lavan "Van" Cliburn Jr. (b.
July 12, 1934), is an American pianistwho achieved worldwide recognition in 1958, when at age 23, he won the first quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow, at the height of the Cold War.
Cliburn was born in
Shreveport, Louisiana, and began taking piano lessons at the age of three from his mother, Rildia Bee O'Bryan Cliburn. O'Bryan was taught by Arthur Friedheim, [ [http://www.arbiterrecords.com/musicresourcecenter/friedheim.html Arthur FRIEDHEIM ] ] a pupil of Franz Liszt. At six years old, Cliburn moved with his family to Kilgore, Texas, and at twelve he won a statewide piano competition which enabled him to debut with the Houston Symphony Orchestra. He entered The Juilliard Schoolat age 17, and studied under Rosina Lhévinne, who trained him in the tradition of the great Russian romantics. At age 20, Cliburn won the Leventritt Award, and made his Carnegie Halldebut.
It was his recognition in Moscow that propelled Cliburn to international fame. The first
International Tchaikovsky Competitionin 1958 was an event designed to demonstrate Soviet cultural superiority during the Cold War, on the heels of their technological victory with the Sputniklaunch in October 1957. Cliburn's performance at the competition finale of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 and Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 earned him a standing ovation lasting eight minutes. When it was time to announce a winner, the judges were obliged to ask permission of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchevto give first prize to an American. "Is he the best?" Khrushchev asked, "Then give him the prize!" Cliburn returned home to a ticker-tape paradein New York City, the only time the honor has been accorded a classical musician. His cover story in " Time" proclaimed him "The Texan Who Conquered Russia." RCA Victorsigned him to an exclusive contract, and his subsequent recording of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 became the first classical album to go platinum. It was the best-selling classical album in the world for more than a decade, eventually going triple-platinum. Cliburn won the 1958 Grammy Awardfor Best Classical Performance for this recording.
Other famous concerti Van Cliburn has recorded include the Grieg Piano Concerto, Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2, Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4 and No. 5 (Emperor), and the Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3.
In 1962, Cliburn became the artistic advisor for the
Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The competition was founded by a group of Fort Worth, Texasmusic teachers and volunteers, and its prestige now rivals that of the Tchaikovsky Competition.
Cliburn performed and recorded through the 1970s, but in 1978, after the deaths of his father and manager, began a hiatus from public life. In 1987, he was invited to perform at the
White Housefor President Ronald Reaganand Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, and afterwards was invited to open the 100th anniversary season of Carnegie Hall. In 1994, Cliburn made a guest appearance in the cartoon "Iron Man", playing himself in the episode "Silence My Companion, Death My Destination". Now over 70, he still gives a limited number of performances every year, to critical and popular acclaim. He has played for royalty and heads of state from dozens of countries, and for every President of the United Statessince Harry Truman.
Cliburn received the
Kennedy Center Honorsin 2001. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedomin 2003 by President George W. Bush, and, in October 2004, the Russian Order of Friendship, the highest civilian awards of the two countries. He was also awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awardthe same year and played at a surprise 50th birthday party for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
In 1998, Cliburn was named in a lawsuit by his
domestic partnerof seventeen years, morticianThomas Zaremba.cite news |first=Linda |last=Rapp |title=Cliburn, Van |url=http://www.glbtq.com/arts/cliburn_v.html |work=glbtq.com |accessdate=2008-03-01 ] In the suit, Zaremba claimed entitlement to a portion of Cliburn's income and assets, and went on to charge that he might have been exposed to HIV, and claimed emotional distress. Each claim was subsequently dismissed by an Appellate Court, citing palimonysuits are not permitted in the state of Texas unless the relationship is based on a written agreement.
*cite news | author=Staff writers | title=The All-American Virtuoso | url=http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,864368,00.html | work=Time | date=19 May 1958 | accessdate=2008-03-01
*cite web | author= | title=Court grants Pianist's ex-Partner Chance to Amend Suit | url=http://www.aegis.com/aidsline/1997/dec/M97C1497.html | work=AEGiS | publisher= National Library of Medicine | date=August 1997 | accessdate=2008-03-01
*cite interview | subject=Van Cliburn | interviewer=
Scott Simon| type= | url=http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=87771963 | format=Audio | program=" Weekend Edition Saturday" | callsign= National Public Radio| city=Ft Worth / New York| date=1 March 2008 | accessdate=2008-03-01
* [http://www.cliburn.org The Van Cliburn Foundation]
* Van Cliburn [http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,19580519,00.html 1958 "Time" magazine, ] cover image
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